Car accident lawyers, like those of us at the O’Sullivan Law Firm, along with the National Highway and Transit Safety Organization (NHTSA), want to help teen drivers to stay safe.
The NHTSA has a number of programs dedicated to helping and protecting teen drivers. The NHTSA advocates a “multi-tiered strategy” in their quest to prevent traffic accident deaths and injuries among teen drivers. The strategy includes increasing teens’ use of seat belts, having states use graduated driver licensing processes, reducing teens’ access to alcohol, and an area that many may not immediately think of, parental responsibility. Most any car accident lawyer could speak to the importance of all of these issues in keeping young drivers safe.
According to the NHTSA, “Young drivers, ages 15- to 20-years old, are especially vulnerable to death and injury on our roadways: traffic crashes are the leading cause of death for teenagers in America. Mile for mile, teenagers are involved in three times as many fatal crashes as all other drivers.” So, how can these NHTSA safety tips be translated into real-life safety tips for new drivers?
So many teens think they are invincible; in their minds, nothing bad will ever happen to them. This isn’t simply hubris. The teen brain is still developing, and what might be common sense to adults simply does not occur to a teen.
Unfortunately, as too many parents and as a number of car accident lawyers can attest, bad things do happen, and heartbreakingly, many such things are preventable.
For one, teens are notorious for not wanting to use a seatbelt. Using seatbelts keeps drivers of all ages, including teen drivers and their passengers, safer. The statistics are there to back this up. No one should be too cool to buckle up their seatbelt.
Next, make graduated licensing procedures work to a teen’s advantage. Gradually earning more and more freedom on the road should be a process of learning how to handle road situations such as bad weather and aggressive drivers. Teens should take advantage of the opportunity to learn what to do and what NOT to do while driving.
No one should drink and drive, especially teen drivers, since they start out at a statistically higher chance of being injured or killed in a motor vehicle accident. Parents can do a lot to help keep teens sober by not serving them alcohol, by monitoring their behavior in appropriate ways, and by explaining the gravity of drinking and driving in terms that kids will understood.
Parents can also serve as good role models while on the road by not driving aggressively, not drinking and driving (even if they think they’re sober), and obeying speed limits and traffic regulations.
Parents are also well qualified to teach their teens how to react in certain dangerous driving situations. Additionally, in Colorado, there are organizations that offer the Driver Awareness Course, which can lead to youths receiving their license at the age of 15 and a half. A list of providers is available through the Colorado State web portal.
If your teen turns 16 soon, or if they’re interested in proving that they’re capable of being a safe and responsible driver, check out our parent / teen driver contract.